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Retail Callouts (3/28): NKE, FINL, WMT, AMZN, PVH, GIII

Takeaway: Confusing FINL guide. Notable chg from NKE in athlete strategy. WMT’s Tesla truck. AMZN closer to streaming. PVH/GIII license. WMT vs Visa.

COMPANY NEWS

 

FINL - 4Q14 Earnings

 

At face value the print looks good. Comps, margins, and EPS all came in ahead of expectations. But the company guided EPS for the year to a high-single-digit to low-double-digit growth rate, with the Street sitting at +14.8%. That's not the end of the world, but the confusing element is that it guided comps +mid-single, which is slightly above the 3.8% rate the Street is modeling. This is a company that has burned people in the past with investment spending, so one would think we'd start to see some decent flow through this time around -- especially given the solid results we're seeing out of Foot Locker.  Separately, the SIGMA move was not a pretty one. Yes, it moved into  Quadrant 3 (worst place to be), but the bigger takeaway is how often it is in a negative inventory and margin position. 

 

Retail Callouts (3/28): NKE, FINL, WMT, AMZN, PVH, GIII - chart3 3 28

 

NKE - Nike Showcases Johnny Manziel Pro Day Collection 

(http://www.sportsonesource.com/news/fbu/fbu_article.asp?section=8&Prod=5&id=50475)

 

  • "Nike, which recently signed Johnny Manziel to an endorsement contract, is wasting no time cashing in. At Texas A&M's pro day on Thursday, Manziel elected to wear Nike full pads and helmet, a move that surprised scouts and the media since most players do not suit up with a helmet during these types of workouts. Nike tweeted out a link to buy all the items from the Manziel 'Pro Day Collection.'”

 

Retail Callouts (3/28): NKE, FINL, WMT, AMZN, PVH, GIII - chart1 3 28

 

Takeaway: Let's be clear about something, we still think that Manziel is a colossal blow-up risk.  But we give Nike a lot of credit on how they're handling this one. Their old MO was to endorse big athletes, stick them in ads and hope that it trickles down to mainstream product. But Nike has a full array of product associated with Manziel for Pro Day -- far from when he even will even see a snap in the NFL. This marks a fundamental change for how Nike is handling these endorsements. We still don't like the stock here. But like this development.

 

AMZN - Amazon Considers Streaming Media Service

(http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304688104579465690663213198?mod=WSJ_business_whatsNews&mg=reno64-wsj)

 

  • "Amazon.com Inc. is considering an advertising-supported streaming television and music-video service, a departure from its strategy of linking video to its $99-a-year Prime subscription service, according to people close to the company."
  • "The proposed service, as Amazon has outlined it to potential partners, could launch in the coming months and could feature original and licensed content, these people said. As part of the service's development, Amazon has held talks with the creators of  'Betas,' a series about a Silicon Valley startup that Amazon co-produced last year, these people said."
  • "Amazon also plans to offer free music videos with advertising to people visiting its retail website, two of the people said. A search for Bruce Springsteen CDs, for example, might yield an option to watch the 'Born in the U.S.A.' video."
  • "An Amazon spokeswoman said, 'We're often experimenting with new things, but we have no plans to offer a free streaming media service.'"

 

Takeaway: The company denied these streaming rumors, but there's no disputing that the company is looking to create its own content. Let's put TV into perspective - over 65% of new shows get cancelled in their first season. NFLX defied the odds and struck gold with two hits. AMZN is 0 for 1 with Beta's and that trend probably continues.

 

WMT - This is what Walmart thinks tractor trailers of the future will look like

(http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/4/5470242/walmart-wave-hybrid-tractor-trailer-concept-revealed)

 

  • "This could be the truck of the future. At least, that may be the case for Walmart's massive fleet of 6,500 tractors that help supply its stores. It's called the Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience (WAVE), and it's said to be 20 percent more aerodynamic than the company's current fleet. Walmart CEO Doug McMillion says it has a 'micro-turbine hybrid powertrain that can run on diesel, natural gas, biodiesel and probably other fuels still to be developed.' There's also a battery pack on board with limited electric range."
  • "As you might have guessed from the CEO's statement, the WAVE is merely a concept at this point. 'It may never make it to the road,' McMillion admits, though he adds that 'it will allow us to test new technologies and new approaches.'"

 

Retail Callouts (3/28): NKE, FINL, WMT, AMZN, PVH, GIII - chart2 3 28

 

Takeaway: The average 18-wheeler gets about 6 MPG. WMT truckers drive ~700mm miles per year. That’s about $500mm on diesel alone. If that average MPG number went to 18 that equates to about $320mm in cost savings. Pennies for WMT, but significant innovation for the industry if WMT can get the prototype off of the design room floor.

 

WMT - Wal-Mart Sues Visa Claiming Card Transaction Fee Fixing

(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-27/wal-mart-sues-visa-claiming-card-transaction-fee-fixing.html)

 

  • "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. sued Visa for allegedly conspiring with banks to fix transaction fees, the latest salvo of a multiyear legal fight between retailers and card issuers."
  • "The world’s biggest retailer seeks at least $5 billion in damages for what it claims are violations of federal antitrust laws that could triple that sum."

 

Takeaway: WMT has a serious bone to pick with Visa. The company backed out of the $7.25bil class-action settlement agreed upon in December to pursue this new litigation.

 

OTHER NEWS

 

Neiman-Marcus - Neiman eyes Hudson Yards for 1st NYC store

(http://nypost.com/2014/03/27/neiman-marcus-makes-groundbreaking-move-into-nyc/)

 

  • "Neiman Marcus is poised to enter New York...The...department store is nearing a deal to open a flagship store at Hudson Yards, the mega-development under construction on Manhattan’s West Side, The Post has learned."
  • "Neiman is negotiating with developer Related Cos. to anchor the Hudson Yards’ 1 million-square-foot retail complex, slated to open in 2018, with multilevel store that could span upwards of 200,000 square feet, according to sources briefed on the talks."

 

GIII, PVH - G-III Apparel Group Announces License for G.H. Bass Men's Sportswear

(http://ir.g-iii.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=836154)

 

  • "G-III Apparel Group, Ltd. announced today that it has entered into a multi-year license agreement with PVH Corp. under which PVH will design, market, and distribute better men's sportswear for G-III's G.H. Bass & Co. brand, primarily for department store customers throughout North America. The collection will launch for Fall 2014."

 

WMT - 500.com Limited Enters into Strategic Cooperation Agreement with Yhd.com

(http://www.nasdaq.com/press-release/500com-limited-enters-into-strategic-cooperation-agreement-with-yhdcom-201402)

 

  • "500.com Limited a leading online sports lottery service provider in China, today announced that it has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Yhd.com, a leading B2C e-commerce platform for food, beverages and imported food products in China which is owned by Wal-Mart Group, to begin offering the Company's sports lottery products through Yhd.com's extensive e-commerce platform."

PODCAST: Implications of Rising Inflation

 

 

In this morning’s Q&A session with subscribers, Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough discusses the investing and economic implications of #InflationAccelerating and continuing dollar debasement.

 

Subscribe to Hedgeye.

 


Another Day of #InflationAccelerating

Client Talking Points

EUROPE

There is no “Candy Crush” in the Denmark index (up +1.3% this morning to +14.6% year-to-date). European stocks are having an outstanding week relative to the USA social media bubble. Just look at the DAX which is up +1% and back above its TREND line of 9377. Italy continues to rip, too. It’s up +1.2% this morning at +13% YTD.

COMMODITIES

As the 50-day moving monkeys freak out about Gold (up +7.8% year-to-date versus the Dow down -1.8%), the CRB Index (19 commodities) closed up another +0.9% yesterday to +8.5% YTD. It’s all very #InflationAccelerating.

UST 10YR

The 2.69% yield agrees with us that inflation slows US growth. While Gold may have some short-term mean reversion issues (after being up +15% year-to-date a few weeks ago) being long #GrowthSlowing in long-bond terms has been great this week. The 10-year TREND resistance of 2.81% is firmly intact. Incidentally, the SPX risk range is 1842 – 1878.

Asset Allocation

CASH 20% US EQUITIES 10%
INTL EQUITIES 12% COMMODITIES 18%
FIXED INCOME 20% INTL CURRENCIES 20%

Top Long Ideas

Company Ticker Sector Duration
OC

Construction activity remains cyclically depressed, but has likely begun the long process of recovery.  A large multi-year rebound in construction should provide a tailwind to OC shares that the market appears to be underestimating.  Both residential and nonresidential construction in the U.S. would need to roughly double to reach post-war demographic norms.  As credit returns to the market and government funded construction begins to rebound, construction markets should make steady gains in coming years, quarterly weather aside, supporting OC’s revenue and capacity utilization.

DRI

Darden is the world’s largest full service restaurant company. The company operates +2000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, including Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn and Capital Grille. Management has been under a firestorm of criticism for poor performance. Hedgeye's Howard Penney has been at the forefront of this activist movement since early 2013, when he first identified the potential for unleashing significant value creation for Darden shareholders. Less than a year later, it looks like Penney’s plan is coming to fruition. Penney (who thinks DRI is grossly mismanaged and in need of a major overhaul) believes activists will drive material change at Darden. This would obviously be extremely bullish for shareholders and could happen fairly soon driving shares materially higher.

Three for the Road

TWEET OF THE DAY

Utilities $XLU +7.9% remains the best sector as inflation slows growth and forces yield chasing @KeithMcCullough

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man."  –  Ronald Reagan

STAT OF THE DAY

Foreign buyers are snapping up homes in London , distorting prices and forcing policymakers to levy new taxes in an attempt to control the market. Nearly 70% of newly built properties in prime areas of central London were bought by foreign nationals between 2011 and 2013, according to realtor Knight Frank. (CNN)


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False Positives

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”

 -George Bernard Shaw

 

Every effective stock market operator knows that investment analysis is at best an imperfect science.  The mosaic theory is an apt description because with the absence of a silver bullet (knowing the results of a drug test before everyone else as an example), an investment analyst’s best tool is his or her ability to collect more data than his or her peers and to then use that data to reach a more informed conclusion.

 

Even then, in the absence of perfect information, many outcomes are flawed.   In fact, many analysts are guilty of making what is called a Type 1 error, or a false positive.   False positives lead analysts to conclude that a relationship exists when in fact it does not.  In medicine, this might occur when a test shows a patient has a disease, when they don’t.

 

False Positives - 55

 

As Europe contemplates another round of extreme monetary policy to offset perceived deflationary pressures, it does beg the question of whether there is a relationship between a monetary policy and a tightening economy.  Certainly, many supporters of former Fed Chairman Bernanke point to the fact that the economy recovered under him as evidence that his implementation of the most extreme monetary policy in the history of central banking was the reason for this recovery.

 

Conversely, though, the question remains whether the economy has recovered at all because of QE or even commensurately with the QE that has been implemented.  As former Dallas Fed President Bob McTeer recently wrote in Forbes:

 

“The hoarding of excess reserves limited the money creation or “printing” that took place despite the Fed’s massive purchases of securities and expansion of its balance sheet. That’s why the dire consequences predicted never came to pass. However, it is also the reason that the Fed’s purchases never stimulated the economy as much as hoped.”

 

In reality if you print dollars and don’t allow them to be spent, then you are really only debauching the currency by increasing the denominator.  Certainly this a policy that is good for the inflation trade, especially relating to those commodities priced in U.S. dollars

 

Back to the Global Macro Grind...

 

As Portugal’s bonds fall below the 4% yield for the first time in almost ever, one has to wonder if there isn’t a bit of a false positive emerging in the European peripheral sovereign debt markers.   Currently the 10-year yields of Portugal, Italy and Spain stand at 3.99%, 3.27%, and 3.20%, respectively.  Certainly these yields are still wide versus German bunds, but are these yields, on absolute basis, truly reflective of the underlying creditworthiness of those economies?

 

Take Spain as an example. This morning the Spanish central bank is projecting the Spanish economy will grow by 1.2%.   Given that this is below par economic growth, it is likely that Spanish unemployment stays above 25%.   This morning consumer prices were also reported to have fallen at an annual rate of -0.2%, which is the first decline in consumer prices in four years in Spain and indicative that consumers in Spain aren’t really spending (recent retail sales data show the same).

 

Clearly, on the margin, the economies in the periphery in Europe have improved, but if you are a buyer of Italian or Spanish 10-year bonds at 3.2%-ish, you need to put on the big boy analytical pants and decide if for that yield, the risk is commensurate.  At a 10% dividend yield, Linn Energy ($LINE) might be a good relative bet . . . actually I take that back, we’d continue to stay the heck away from LINE and much of the MLP complex !!!

 

My colleague Christian Drake, our U.S. focused economic analyst, wrote a note yesterday that he titled, “INFLECTIONS OR FALSE POSITIVES? CLAIMS, CONSUMPTION & CAPEX” where he addressed some of the myriad of U.S. economic data out recently:

  • #ItsNot2013:  Growth estimates globally continue to get marked down.  Slowing topline (GDP) and compressing margins (rising inflation) is not the stuff of market multiple expansion or macro P&L dynamics to remain lazy long of.
  • RISING INEQUALITY:  Corporate Profits - measured as the % of National Income or GDP -  made another new high in 4Q13.  The other side of that, of course, is a lower low in labor’s share of income.  Latent risks can remain latent, however.
  • CAPEX RESURGENCE?  General acknowledgement that assets are aging and businesses have under-invested isn’t a catalyst.
  • PAY-ME-NOW:  Productively continues to grow at a positive spread to unit costs and investors continue to reward the ‘pay-me-now’ corporate capital strategy. 
  • DURABLE DISAPPOINTMENT:  New Orders for Capital Goods non-Defense Ex-Air have been negative on a month-over-month basis for four of the last six months.
  • INITIAL JOBLESS CLAIMS:  A positive week of data…finally.  The next few weeks of data should be important

His conclusion, which is highlighted in the Chart of the Day below, is that although the U.S. economic data is part positive and part negative, GDP estimates continue to fall.  Ultimately the direction of GDP change is what matters.

 

But that all said, as you head into the weekend I would leave you with words of Mark Twain:

 

“All generalizations are false, including this one.”

 

Our immediate-term Global Macro Risk Ranges are now:

 

UST 10yr Yield 2.64-2.75%

SPX 1 

VIX 13.85-15.81 

USD 79.35-80.39 

Gold 1 

Copper 2.91-3.06 

 

Keep your head up and stick on the ice,

 

Daryl G. Jones

Director of Research

 

False Positives - chartday

 

False Positives - Virtual Portfolio


LEISURE LETTER (03/28/2104)

TICKERS: CZR, PNK, WYNN

 

EVENTS TO WATCH:  UPCOMING EARNINGS/CONFERENCES/RELEASES 

 Friday, March 28 

  • Nevada gaming revenues release for February 
  • Wynn Macau board meeting

Tuesday-Thursday, April 8-10

  • Mid-America Gaming Congress (Columbus, OH)

Wednesday, April 9

  • SHO Investor Day

Thursday, April 10

  • HST Investor Day

 

COMPANY NEWS

CZR – announced an offering of 7 million shares of its common stock.  Caesars expects to grant the underwriter of the offering an option to purchase up to 1.05 million additional shares of its common stock.

 

TAKEAWAY:  The equity offering seems unusual given the recently announced transaction where Caesars will sell assets to Caesars Growth Partners for cash and assumption of debt.

                                 

PNK – the Missouri Gaming Commission approved the sale of Lumiere Place to Tropicana Entertainment.  Pinnacle and Tropicana plan to complete the $260 million, all-cash transaction by the end of 1Q14.  he divestiture is structured as a 338(h)(10) transaction. The book carrying value for Lumiere Place Casino and Hotels was $401.5 million at June 30, 2013

 

TAKEAWAY:  Transaction appears on track.  We note PNK should generate a significant NOL at closing. 

 

WYNN / 1128.HK - Ltd will offer shares in the company to all 7,500 of its employees.  The company announced that it would offer each employee 1,000 shares.  Wynn Macau also said it would pay its employees two bonuses a year from this year until 2017 – one in the summer and one in winter.

TAKEAWAY:  A creative way to hand cuff workers in a tight and getting tighter labor market as the new Cotai properties begin to recruit for their 2016 and 2017 openings.

 

WYNN - Garth Brooks, the best-selling solo musician in U.S. history, ended his semi-retirement on Thursday when he announced 15 concert dates at Wynn Resorts Ltd’s Encore theater in Las Vegas. Brooks will perform on three consecutive nights beginning December 11, with another six dates in January & six in February at Wynn Resorts’ hotel, casino & performance complex, which opened late last year.

TAKEAWAY:  Given the long history between Garth Brook and Steve Wynn we are not surprised.  Bringing Garth Brooks back just prior to and just after the very busy Christmas/New Year Holidays is a creative way to create incremental room and casino business. 

  

INDUSTRY NEWS              

An Illinois Senate committee has passed a bill (SB3144) upping the number of VLTs allowed at truck stops from five to 10. 

TAKEAWAY:  A plus for the suppliers if it goes through the process. Meanwhile, the number of new VLTs approved dropped to a monthly low in February.

MACRO

Hedgeye remains negative on consumer spending and believes in more inflation.  Following  a great call on rising housing prices, the Hedgeye Macro/Financials team is turning decidedly less positive.  

TAKEAWAY:  We’ve found housing prices to be the single most significant factor in driving gaming revenues over the past 20 years in virtually all gaming markets across the US.


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